Menthol, such as that found in Vicks® VapoRub®
, is a natural cooling ingredient found in plants such as mint, and is most commonly recognized by its smell.1
Experiments with menthol were conducted as early as 1885, and it began to be recognized as a "drug with great usefulness"2
—especially for treating symptoms of the common cold. As a result, menthol was no longer just considered an "herbal medicine" but became a recognized drug therapy.1
Using menthol as part of a cold symptom treatment can reduce cough by interacting with cold receptors in the nose and throat. Studies have been conducted in which people were made to cough by being exposed to an irritating mist. Inhaling menthol prior to the exposure significantly reduced the number of times they coughed.2
Eccles, R. Menthol and Related Cooling Compounds. J Pharm Pharmacol. 46:618-630. 1994.
Morice A.H., et al. Effect of inhaled menthol on citric acid induced cough in normal subjects. Thorax. 49:1024-1026. 1994.